Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick says the sale of a Kelowna property is in the public's best interest.
The rejected site of the Okanagan jail is up for sale, and last week the NDP claimed that the B.C. Liberals were selling the property to help plug a $700-million hole in the budget.
"The site is surplus to the government's needs, and we're talking about hundreds of jobs here," said Letnick on Sunday.
Letnick said he was contacted by private businesses who were seriously looking at the site and he passed on those phone calls to the Ministry of Finance, but hasn't been involved in the talks since.
The lot at 200 Potterton Rd. near the Lake Country boundary was assessed at $5 million in 2013.
The NDP claimed the sale of public lands is a strategic move by the Liberals and they're afraid the government will give it away for a fire-sale price.
"In their desperation to make the budget appear balanced, the Liberals are robbing the generation of tomorrow," said Vernon-Monashee NDP candidate Mark Olsen.
But Letnick says the NDP's claims aren't true.
"If they understood that the interest in the site might be for the private sector, they might have a different response," Letnick said.
The province bought the seven-hectare property in Kelowna for $1.7 million in 1997 as a potential jail site. Corrections officials decided to build the new facility in Port Coquitlam instead.
In 2007, the province renewed its interest in building the jail at the vacant lot on Potterton Road, but the Liberals backed down after opposition from the Okanagan Indian Band and Lake Country Mayor James Baker. The land value of a smaller site next door has been assessed at $423,000 per acre - 53 per cent more than the provincially-owned site. If the province sold it at the same rate, it should get $7.5 million, according to the NDP.
Letnick said he would be getting a report on any new developments about the property this week.
"That site has been empty for many many years and it's time to see some productive, commercial industrial use of it. I would like to see the jobs in Kelowna-Lake Country," Letnick said.